Automatic, a smart driving assistant for your car, has finally come to Android. The app, which has been available to iOS users for quite some time, was rolling along in beta for the last few months but is now available to all in Google Play. Our friends over at iMore reviewed Automatic not two weeks ago, finding it a potentially useful app and device combo, if in need of some improvements.

If you haven't heard of Automatic before, it's essentially a link from your car to your smartphone. A small dongle (aptly called the Automatic Link) plugs into your car's OBD-II port and connects to your phone over Bluetooth. The app then gives you feedback on your driving — things like rough braking, rapid acceleration and of course speeding. There's also a drive score to help you improve on things like gas mileage, a trip timeline for keeping tracking of when and where you are, and a Crash Alert which can send notifications to loved one should something unfortunate happen.

The Automatic app is free, but it won't do you any good without the $99 Link unit which works on most US vehicles made after 1996. If you want to deep-dive into your driving habits however, there's no better way.



Reader comments

Automatic vehicle diagnostics app comes to Android


Yeap, pretty much. Plenty of OBD2 Bluetooth dongles for around $20 and plenty of similar apps for about $5. A $100 for that is a total rip-off.

A bluetooth OBD-II reader is 25$ on amazon. For the love of all that is holy, dont spend 99$ on one. If their dongle is proprietary for the app, then this is a complete rip off.

I have been doing this with an app called Torque for years now on android with a 25$ dongle. It will display all the info your car tracks as well as read/clear fault codes and data log. It even uses gps+acc to determine rough 0-60 and 1/4 mile times and approx Hp and torque. I cannot imagine this app is 75$ better.

Actually, Automatic DOES do more (though it doesn't appear to be dongle related). The App has notifications for rough breaking and hard acceleration that Torque and Dash don't do.

This^ If I want to drive my car hard, I don't wanna have some app screaming at me to slow down or accelerate slower. I just want to slam the accelerator to the floor and hear the roar.

This^ If I wanna drive my car hard, I don't want some app screaming at me to slow down or accelerate slower. I just want to push the pedal to the floor and hear the roar!

That's the one I use as well - works like a charm. The price they are charging is simply insulting.

I think you're kinda forgetting something. You say the price they're charging is insane, but you forget that this app was ported from the iPhone. Those mugs will pay anything because, majoritively speaking, they're stupid! They haven't quite cottoned on yet that android users are far more intelligent and sensible. I'm sure if their dongle only works with their app then they're sure to sell a hell of a lot less on android than that of iShee......sorry.....iPhone. :P

I like the small size and price of this one, but the item description on Amazon says that it won't work with Android 4.0+ What version of Android are you using it with?

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Does it work properly with their App, otherwise why would people pay $99 when they could pay $25. I would suspect they tied something into it.

That's the question. I can tell you that there is no way their dongle is more functional than a generic one. But their app may be proprietary and only work with the 99$ I will download and check this afternoon with my generic one.

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Nope cannot use this app with a generic obd2 transmitter. It asks you for a code on their scanner and I cannot get it to set up or even to the menus. They do force you to spend 99$ for a nanny.

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I use torque also. It is great and saves time and money. Plus it has cool features that amateurs and profesionals alike can use. I bought a $10 dongle from a california company on ebay. But the features in this app like telling you if your braking too much or ways to save gas is a plus and I will be trying it. But not paying for $99 dongle for sure. I just hope it is not needed just to run this app. I hope the universal dongles work.

Yes I've also been using torque for about 3 years with a dongle I got on eBay for like $30. Torque is a very awesome app. It gets updated all the time and the dev is fantastic

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If Torque is good about upgrades I'm sure they will soon add the features listed for Automatic that they don't currently have.


See what your car is doing in realtime, get OBD fault codes, car performance, sensor data and more!
Torque is a vehicle / car performance / diagnostics tool and scanner that uses an OBD II Bluetooth adapter to connect to your OBD2 engine management / ECU

Layout your own dashboard with the widgets / gauges you want!

It can use the GPS to provide tracker logs with OBD engine logging so you can see what you were doing at any point in time

It can also show and reset a DTC / CEL / fault code like a scantool. Helps you fix your car and helps keep repair costs down!

Torque also features:

* Dyno / Dynomometer and Horsepower/HP & Torque
* Can read Transmission Temperatures (vehicle dependant)
* 0-60 speed timings - more accurate than just using plain old GPS - see how fast your car is (or truck )
* CO2 emissions readout
* Customisable dashboard & profiles
* Video your journey using the Track Recorder plugin with onscreen OBDII data overlay - a black box for your car/truck!
* Automatically send GPS tagged tweets directly to twitter (for example if you are going on a road trip)
* Massive fault code database for lookup of fault codes from different manufacturers
* Theme support (choose from different themes to change the look of your dashboard)
* Send logging information to web or email CSV/KML for analysis via excel / openoffice reader
* Heads up display / HUD mode for night time driving
* Compass (GPS Based) that won't suffer magnetic interference
* GPS Speedometer/Tracking and realtime web upload capability - see what you were doing and your engine, at a point in time
* Turbo boost feature for vehicles that support MAP and MAF sensors (VW & Golf / Audi / Seat etc supported)
* Alarms and warnings (for example if your coolant temperature goes over 120C whilst driving) with voice/speech overlay
* Car dock support
* Graph data
* Able to share screenshots to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Email, etc
* AIDL API for third party apps, A simple Telnet interface for developers to talk to the adapter, and an OBD scanner.

Love Torque! Already paid for itself telling me which sensor I needed to replace.

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There is a lot of these apps out there. I liked that one and eCar Pro OBD2 that googleplay just released. Its described as: Gain access to your vehicles ECU and monitor your vehicle’s emission system, engine performance, catalytic converters; view comparisons on O2 sensors and fuel trim banks; Set/View alarms: speed (user adjustable), coolant temperature, low battery, low fuel, & rpm. Read quarter (¼) mile & 0-60 mph Timers, Fuel Economy, CO2 Analysis, Horsepower, Torque, & More!

Thanks for the suggestion one80oneday.
I am going to give this one a try and see how well it works.

Dash was a bit of a pain to find in the app store so those that want to look at it search for "Dash - Drive Smart".

This is one of the dongles from Amazon. I have 2 of them and have several friends that have bought them also.

11.99 + prime shipping

I also use Torque and found that the paid version is MUCH nicer than the free one (Completely different UI). Torque does take a little more setup for some of the advanced features but I found that it was still very easy to use.

Torque app is only $4.95 so together you are spending less than $17.

I find it strange that the writers have not taken any time to review Torque but will jump on something like this in a heartbeat. This kind of bias makes me think that some of these articles are nothing more than paid ads. I hope I am wrong and would love to see a good review of Torque and a cheap dongle.

Is it just me, or is that guy in the video SUPER creepy?? Hearing him describe the tracking capabilities of the app actually dissuaded me from getting it.

also the adapter that automatic sells can only be used with their app, locking it out of advanced obd2 options. I have torque and just installed dash a bit ago as well, and both are much better options with my 9 dollar obd2 reader.

Torque -> Yes!!!!!
I have a dedicated Nexus7 in my car to view realtime information and use as a media center and GPS.

I use my Nexus 7 and Torque in my F350 SuperDuty. This was a MUCH cheaper alternative than buying specific gauge clusters. I have get the same info and in what ever layout I want.

What app are you using for the navigation on the N7, do you have LTE or just Wifi. Wanted to use mine as a GPS turn by turn too but Google maps needs wifi or lte unless you download the map but then what happens if you take a wrong turn.

Just an FYI, I use an app called "NavFree" that's in Google Play Store, you need to download data for states that you plan to travel in advance. They are kinda big files depending on the size of the state(s) you want to download, but after that, it works great for me.

Nothing you describe can be done through obd2 port that I am aware. You can get piggy back systems that will, but they will have to be wired off of sensors or directly to the engine harness in the engine bay. Not through obd2

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Will these things give you the error codes a car is throwing out if an instrument light comes on?

Yes and you can clear it if you choose to. Most auto parts stores(not mechanic but stores) will only read codes and wont clear them. Of course you can just disconnect the battery to clear one as well...

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The "big deal" with automatic is that it senses your driving habits, such as lead-footing and slamming the brakes, and beeps at you to remind you you're driving aggressively and hopefully help you improve your driving habits and save on gas and repairs. It will also do the same thing as OnStar and uses your mobile phone to call for assistance if you have an accident. It also does the usual decoding of OBD-II error codes.

For the technically minded one of the other options like Torque may be preferable but you can plug the Automatic into a non-techie's car and give them the benefits. Whether or not it's worth the extra money is a YMMV decision.

Yeah I read into it and apparently this special dongle is mostly for ios because ios does not like blue tooth devices that use pre4.0 blue tooth protocols and you have to have a 4.0 blue tooth or a wifi adapter to connect on an ios device. Which is a much more expensive adapter like this one.

Whether this app will work with a generic sensor or not on Android is yet to be seen. I am going to try today.

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Let us know, because I'd rather use the Automatic App for the features mentioned above. Dash and Torque don't have anything like that (yet).

Nope cannot use this app with a generic obd2 transmitter. It asks you for a code on their scanner and I cannot get it to set up or even into the menus. They do force you to spend 99$ for a nanny it seems.

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You'd figure that BT would allow for multiple simultaneous connections by now. I can either use Automatic, or have hands-free calling on my car; I can either use my smart watch or my Google Glass. So annoying!

Bluetooth can use multiple connection as long as they are using different protocols. I have connected a BT headset for calls with the car stereo for music while driving (simultaneously).

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I have a very basic OBD2 scanner and you all just convinced me to buy a bluetooth OBD dongle and Torque. What a great setup for not a lot of money.

For those that missed my previous comments, I tried the app with a generic scanner with no luck:

Nope cannot use this app with a generic obd2 transmitter. It asks you for a code on their scanner and I cannot get it to set up or even to the menus. They do force you to spend 99$ for a nanny it seems.

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It's hardly a 'nanny', this info is very useful for anyone who wants to extend gas mileage. Google 'hypermiling' some time.

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Not familiar with this app. I've been using Torque for quite some time and its worked great with a bluetooth OBII scanner from Amazon.

thanks guys for suggesting those better devices/app. this is exactly what i needed as my check engine light keeps turning on and off. :D

Just checked and this app will not work with any dongle except their $99 proprietary. Oh well.

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I can get cheaper OBDII on website like I don't think it's worth spending $99 on those few extra features

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I actually debated getting one of those OBDII Dongles for my phone. But is there a particular one that people can recommend that just works and where the seller will actually ship to Europe/Denmark?. I plan to use it together with my S5 and future phones :)

Great article . I purchased an android obd2 tool called eCAR pro from google play. works great with a $20 adapter from amazon. The app is multi-functional and reads over 100 sensors. These apps are great for diagnostics and saves the user 100's if not 1000's in repair costs

I have and android phone and use eCar Pro obd2 that GooglePlay just released. Apps like eCar Pro obd2, and elm327 and others are a dime a dozen and only require a cheap obd2 adapter ( less than $20). A lot cheaper and more info is given with these apps. You need to beef your app up a little